Kevin Kruse's book: 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

Time is a resource that everybody struggles to manage. Kevin Kruse’s new book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, outlines a set of tools that he has extracted from interviews with highly successful entrepreneurs, academics, and students. The 15 secrets include recognizing that there are only 1,440 minutes a day (be careful of those that ask you if you have a minute), identifying and focusing on your single most important task, and abandoning your to-do lists for a calendar. None of these or the other 12 secrets is easy to adopt if you are not already practicing time management techniques. While these techniques are not easy, you can unlearn less effective techniques based on purported common knowledge.

I have already been able to adopt a number of the practices, much to the chagrin of colleagues that don’t want an agenda that begins with the highest value item rather than something easy.

The book lays out the 15 secrets and then shares outtakes from Kevin’s conversations with students, entrepreneurs and academics. Frankly, I got little from the interviews with the academics and wish there were fewer. I got the most from the students (this section, I felt, ran a bit long also, but when I looked at all that I had highlighted, I recognized that my feeling was probably wrong).

Overall, I believe this book is extremely useful to me, even though I am old hand at time management. Regardless of whether you think you are a time management pro or are just starting to deal with trying to manage your own time, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management will be a valuable tool for helping you to manage your time successfully.

Buy Kevin’s book in paper or  Kindle eBook format!

Next week the vacation is over and we will get back to the Mythical-Man Month!

To drive change, you must be pointed in the right direction from the start.

To drive change, you must be pointed in the right direction from the start.

Leading Change by John P. Kotter, originally published in 1996, has become a classic reference that most process improvement specialists either have or should have on their bookshelf. The core of the book lays out an eight-step model for effective change that anyone involved in change will find useful. However there is more to the book than just the model.

If we take it as fact that we live in a world that full of dynamic forces that cause markets to change and evolve, then all organizations will need to change or become irrelevant. In this environment, effective change has become a required capability for the health of the organization. Given the need for change, you would expect that change agents and organizations would have become good at change. However, the anecdotal evidence as seen on business pages of any major newspaper suggests that organizations will fail at change. Kotter begins Leading Change by describing the reasons why many changes fail. Understanding why changes fails is a prerequisite to understanding how change can succeed. In chapter one, titled “Transforming Organizations: Why Firms Fail” Kotter identifies the common errors organizations make when trying to address change.

  1. Allowing too much complacency – Without a sense of urgency it difficult to break the inertia that history and the day-to-day generate. I have often said that a good organizational near death experience makes breaking through organizational inertia much easier.
  2. Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition – Any significant change will require organizational power to create and institutionalize. The power to generate change requires active support and resources of personnel with that organizational power.
  3. Underestimating the power of vision – A vison of the future is required to generate a unified action. Change without vision of the future is much akin to taking a trip without knowing the destination.
  4. Under communicating the vision (by a lot) – The vision defines the future, it must be continuously communicated to ensure everyone is aligned.
  5. Permitting obstacles to block the new vision – Nothing should be allowed to get in the way of the change. It is easy to allow other initiatives or even day-to-day activities to get in the way of change. In environments where “multi-tasking” is encouraged any number one priority will have to vie for focus and attention with other initiatives.
  6. Failing to create short-term wins – Most significant changes require time to complete and institutionalize. Short-term successes help reinforce commitment and momentum to attaining the vision. Short-terms wins need to be planned and generated rather relying on wishful thinking.
  7. Declaring victory too soon – Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Declare victory only when the change has been institutionalized.
  8. Neglecting to anchor changes in the corporate culture – Until any change or process becomes part of corporate culture, the natural tendency will be toward reversion. Think about a person with an organ transplant, without support natural antibodies will attempt to reject the organ. Anchoring change to the culture is the support needed to avoid reversion to the old normal.

Understanding of common errors that cause change to fail is a step to toward successful change. In the next installment we will address the forces that drive successful change. Please share your thoughts and ideas as we re-read the book together.

If you need a copy feel free to buy it using the SPaMCAST associate link (Buy Leading Change) with helps pay for bandwidth, supplies and edit for the podcast and blog. H

Re-Read Saturday is a new feature on the Software Process and Measurement blog. We are starting this feature with a re-read of Leading Change. Leading change has been on my bookshelf for many years and I consider it an important tool The re-read will extend over a twelve Saturdays as I share my current interpretation of a book that has a major impact on how I think about the world around me. When the re-read of Leading Change is complete we will dive into the list of books I am compiling from you, the readers and listeners of my blog and podcast. Have ideas for the next re-read? Let me know the two books that have influenced your career the most!

Book Review: Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis.

Audio Version Software Process and Measurement Cast 207

Gottesdiener, E., & Gorman, M. (2012) Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. United States. EBG Consulting, Inc. 283 pp. ISBN: 9780985787905. (SC)

Reviewed by:
Thomas M. Cagley Jr.,
Software Process and Measurement Cast,
United States

Six Word Review:  Buy This Book, Use This Book

I would like to have been the first person to review Discover to Deliver, however I was too busy actually using the ideas and templates in the book. Sitting down and writing the review took a back seat.  In my mind a book that I can be put to immediate use is open for high praise, in case you missed it, Discover to Deliver is one of those kind of books.

Discover to Deliver uses a unique case study layout to illustrate the use of structured conversations within a framework of seven product dimensions to explore, evaluate and confirm product and project requirements.  The product dimensions described are: user, interface, action, data, control, environment and quality attributes.  The structured conversations that Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman lay out are conceptually simple, but incredibly powerful. The structured conversations described for each dimensions form a set of interlocking questions that help ensure complete requirements coverage.  Quick tip . . . the process that Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman describes can be used for any type of project – whether functional, agile or a classic waterfall project – even though this book is marketed as a new addition to the agile cannon. The concepts laid out here are just that good.  Discover to Deliver provides a platform for taming the requirements beast whether you are building a product, software, processes or hardware.

The book uses a graphical way-finding mechanism to take you through sections of the book, which begins with the case study then takes the reader down from the big concepts into a description of the seven dimensions, how to perform the conversations, adapt the results and then a great section on tools and techniques.

The structured conversation process culminates in a confirmation step that helps ensure that the ideas and decisions made actually make sense.  This last step plays well to my testing background, and is very much along the lines of creating acceptance criteria when creating user stories.

The one criticism I have is that case study at the beginning of the book takes too long to evolve and requires some understanding of the overall process that is provided later.  Thinning the case study down or interleaving it in the description of the toolkit would make it even more useful.

What I find the most useful is that the process of structured conversations using the seven product dimensions as a guide facilitates diverse disciplines working together.  Cross functional teams are needed to get the most from using agile which can be difficult facilitate. In the Preface, Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman note that their goal was “to provide you and your team members with practical guidance in how to collaborate continually to discover and deliver an evolving product.”  If that was their goal they achieved it and more.

Review:  Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals
Naomi Karten

Audio Version – Software Process and Measurement Cast 117

If you are only going to read the first paragraph of this review, I will share the bottom line. If you have to get up in front people (real or virtual), buy Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals: Achieving Excellence. Assuming you read at least part of the book you will have the tools to raise your game as a presenter! As I prepared to write this review I asked people what makes a good “how-to” book. @allyGill, a twitter friend suggested that what made a “how-to” book good “is for it to understand who the audience is”. Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals is a book that knows it’s audience with tips, techniques and examples from Naomi’s background in Information Technology. The book deals not only with standard presentations but includes advics and ideas on team meetings, project presentations as well as our the nearly ubiquitous friend, the webinar. The second most important item in my informal poll was that a good “how-to” book had to have lots of relanent examples or stories to ensure a connection with the reader. Naomi’s seventh book while a concise compilation of advice on how to improve your presentations is rich with examples of both applying that advice in the real world and the pitfalls of ignoring the advice. The critical point for me was that the examples, presented as real world stories, are easy for me to identify with. In my case I mumbled to myself more than once, “I know that person” (and in some cases I was talking about myself). Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals: Achieving Excellence covers the waterfront in terms of how to improve a presentation including discussions of how to know yourself better, know your audience better and know the tricks that different platforms present in practical terms. @DanieVermeulen on Twitter suggested that a good “how-to” book include proven examples of what has already worked elsewhere – not only theory. I think that is one definition of the word practical. Naomi goes one step further and many if not all, chapters can be converted into checklists for application of the ideas presented. I told Naomi during my interview which aired in the Software Process and Measurement Cast 116 that I thought her books were written just in time to meet my needs. One of my recent resolutions was to use stories in my presentations as a vehicle to better convey my messages. Chapter 8 addresses that exact topic discussing the impact of using stories to convey the message in a presentation then walks through how to craft the story and the slides needed to support the story (yes, Naomi addresses the topic of slides in the book). I am the type person that usually picks up a “how-to” book when I am working on a project because it provides the reference material I need to effectively complete the task at hand. Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals: Achieving Excellence meets that criteria but is also well worth a read just to prime your presentation innovation pump. Buy it, read it, then use it as reference.